Yesterday was the first day of the four week long university strikes, where lecturers and staff from 64 British Universities are protesting against proposed pension cuts.
With the possibility of hundreds of thousands of pounds being removed from lecturer pension pots, staff and students have taken a stand together with signs and banners to protest against the changes.
Lecturers have walked out at Universities all over the country including leading campuses Oxford and Cambridge at the beginning of a month long campaign.
Petitions have been signed by over 80,000 students, many backing lecturers are demanding refunds for loss in teaching.
On the strikes organised by the university staff:
On who is most to blame:
University employers: 50%
University staff: 2%
Equally so: 20%
via @YouGov, 13 – 20 Feb
Sample: UK adults studying at university.
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) February 22, 2018
Universities minister Sam Gaiman has called for negotiations, he said: “Students deserve to receive the education that they are paying for. For many, it’s a vital time in studies.”
Members of university and college union are striking due to changes to Universities Superannuation Scheme leaving a typical lecturer almost 10,000 a year worse off in retirement, younger academics could lose almost half of their total regiment income says the union.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “We have been calling for talks for weeks either directly or through Acas, so if UUK are willing to now meet without preconditions with a view to resolving this dispute this good news.”
Under the proposed pension plan the USS will change from a defined benefit scheme which will give members a guaranteed income in retirement to a defined contribution scheme, where pensions are subject to changes in the stock market.
Hull University joined in on the protest today with an overwhelming response from students and staff, they plan to strike everyday for the next four weeks in the same spot from 8am to 12pm.
Hello @DianaJohnsonMP please support Hull staff & students as we join thousands round the country to fight for our pensions and for Higher Ed. You’ll find us on the picket line every morning during the strike #ussstrike#solidarity#socialjustice#labourhull
— Hull University UCU (@hulluniucu) February 22, 2018
Students, lecturers and even dogs stood in solidarity of the cause, showing their lecturers that they aren’t alone.
— Julie Kelley (@julieke070368) February 23, 2018
Zak Brady, 22, Computer Science student said: “The strikes are frustrating as most of us are missing even more lectures to stand with our lecturers that are striking but something needs to be done, the work that they do is important to our education and without them teaching us we’re basically on our own.”
The University suggested that if 61% to over supported the strike that the UUK should come back to the table and renegotiate their offer.
61% if students support this strike. UUK should come back to the negotiating table
— Hull University UCU (@hulluniucu) February 23, 2018
Universities UK posted a video on twitter in regards to the strike, stating without changes that universities will struggle to pay out pensions. Gordon Marsden MP replied to this tweet showing his opinion on the strikes, saying higher education is “at stake”.
None of the cosy graphics in @UniversitiesUK tweet or potentially contestable methodology ( not explained in any way in it);over the ‘deficit’ is any excuse for not sitting down to talks NOW with students’ studies & reputation of HE at stake
— Gordon Marsden MP (@GordonMarsden) February 23, 2018
Universities UK said that institutions were doing all that they could to minimise the impact of the industrial action on students before they reached the stage of claiming compensation.
The UUK called the strike action “disappointing” and said: “The changes proposed will make the scheme secure, and sustainable, safeguarding the future of universities.
“University staff will still have a valuable pension scheme, with employer contributions of 18% of salary, double the private sector average,” said a UUK spokesman.
The proposed changes will affect staff at 68 older universities. Staff at post-1992 universities are members of a different pension scheme.